I/O w/o O/I

December 7, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

A little note on the difference between Gods and Monsters. As ever, I return to the symmetry of the continuum, where we find the far end to seem unfeeling and unnatural. The monster is driven by relentless urges. It is all Output and no Input. Insensitive power, and the power of the insensitive. All that is mindless or heartless and artificial can be mythologized as monstrous. A freak of nature, or a Frankensteinian attempt to transcend nature.

If the monster is an embodied urge, then a god is the opposite; a disembodied personality whose output is that of unbounded teleos. The spirit world is supernatural and all knowing. There can be a god of faith, which receives prayer and devotion as Input, but whose Output is only indirect as signs, miracles, and other synchronistic effects. The supernatural emerges from the seemingly unexplainable unfolding of events and conditions or projection of reasoned intention. The power of the supernatural is figurative and must be inferred by genuine belief. It has no motive power of its own and must borrow that of individuals to worship and serve, whether out of hope and gratitude or fear and dread.

This relates to a conversation about information vs sensation, where I tried, as ever, to make the case for sense as the progenitor of all phenomena, including information-theoretic phenomena. I thought that a straightforward way of understanding this is that turning on a computer or turning the gears of a machine is not substitutable. There can be no symbolic code which has an effect to stop or start a Turing machine, except virtually. Software cannot turn on its own hardware once it has been turned off completely. This comes up a lot in managing server farms at data centers. If you remote into a server and accidentally shut it down rather than reboot. You may have to make a call to someone to physically walk down to your cage and push the button to turn it back on. Even if you’ve got layers of fault tolerance built in, with power switches that can be remotely controlled, it is still inevitable to find yourself calling for a manual reset when that software fails.

This is what I think distinguishes the sensory-motive from input/output. I/O can be virtual – it designates a flow of information in a theoretical topology, but sense must always be literally present at the lowest and most fundamental level of the universe. It can only be a uniquely experienced event which occupies a fixed spacetime coordinate relative to all experiences in the history of the universe. It cannot be simulated or emergent from code. Without genuine sense, the motive power of mechanical output is a monster or zombie. Blind automation. Without genuine motive, an aesthetic sense is bound to the mytho-poetic realm of fiction or psychic intuition.

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